Justice for janitors
Building Skills Partnership (BSP) began with an ambitious goal. They wanted to increase access to education for California’s working families so they could better compete and succeed in life. It was The Justice for Janitors movement that served as the initial inspiration for creating the Partnership 14 years ago. BSP collaborated with businesses committed to community, developing their first workplace training. The training focused on Vocational English and the initial effort established BSP as a nonprofit. Today, Building Skills Partnership has offices in seven major cities in California, including L.A., Orange, San Diego, Sacramento and Alameda.
The Partnership works with the Service Employees International Union - United Service Workers West (SEIUUSWW). They also partner with more than 90 janitorial employers, and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles. Whether it’s navigating the naturalization process, becoming fluent in English, or even cultivating computer skills, BSP and its partners provide the necessary assistance.
English as a second language
“Many of the janitors we work with are mono-lingual, Spanish speakers, often from Central and South America,” explains Monica Zambrano, BSP Financial Capability Coordinator. “Learning English is a high priority,” Zambrano says, adding, “that’s the flagship service we provide, but we do a great deal more than that.” In fact, BSP is doing its part in the fight against the pandemic.
Janitors obviously play a critical role when it comes to protecting workplaces and occupants. That’s the reason why, in June of 2020, BSP launched their Infectious Disease Certification Program. The aim is to adapt cleaning and maintenance practices to evolving needs.
A great many BSP participants experience income volatility which can cause significant stress and is difficult to deal with. Lacking basic financial skills can turn “making ends meet,” into a much more tenuous undertaking. That’s where SCE Credit Union comes in.
The answer to being unbanked
SCE Credit Union has hosted a series of workshops for BSP. These involve a variety of financially relevant topics such as getting out of debt, and how to create a budget. It’s common those working in the field don’t have basic accounts. The answer to the issues of being unbanked or underbanked is often the Credit Union. SCE FCU offers access to checking accounts, and according to BSP’s Monica Zambrano, has also been there for those who want to borrow.
“When we have a participant looking for a responsible, amiable institution to work with, we don’t hesitate to recommend SCE Credit Union,” Zambrano states.
Despite the pandemic, BSP isn’t standing still. They’ve recently expanded their services to janitors at the Los Angeles International Airport. In addition to teaching English, they’re working on emergency preparedness. Once COVID recedes, Building Skills Partnership will be positioned to expand their outreach even further and SCE Credit Union will do what it can to help. Zambrano looks forward to a long-term relationship. “It’s great to be able to partner with SCE Credit Union and connect members of the community with their expertise and resources.”
Source: Building Skills